Gables Service Station
1 July 2005
1961 MESSERSCHMITT KR 200 "KABINROLLER" 2-SEATER TANDEM
Registration No. 376 MJO
Chassis No. 78174
Engine No. 3383434
Silver with blue interior
Engine: one cylinder, two stroke, 191cc; Gearbox: four-speed and electric reverse; Suspension: independent rubber cones; Brakes: cable-operated drums. Central steering.
If equipment and raw materials were sparse in ravaged post-War Europe, none were more deprived than the vanquished Axis powers. Personal transport for Germans was restricted to the super-rich only, while luxuries such as petrol only slowly descended into the obtainable for the majority of the population. In their own fight for survival, manufacturers sought ways of catering for a market with such restricted means, and thus it is unsurprising that German manufacturers are the most famous proponents of the "microcar" concept. Among the most famous of this curious genre is the Messerschmitt.
By the early Nineteen-Fifties, the Regensburger Stahl-und Maschinenbau company were seeking new projects, and a meeting between Professor Willy Messerschmitt and former employee Fritz Fend resulted in a deal to produce a three-wheeled two-seater in tandem. The first incarnation, the KR175, emerged in February 1953 with a 173cc powerplant. It enjoyed a speedy evolution with some 70 modifications brought in within the first five months of production. By January 1954 the company was considering a power increase, and a 12 horsepower two-cylinder unit was discussed but rejected in favour of the Sachs 200 unit. Work also ensued on a new bubble top, and both emerged on the new KR200 in March 1955.
Many modifications were made during the KR200's production run, both for the sake of refinement and cost-effectiveness. These included a redesign of the swing-arm and chaincase from chassis 65,186 onwards, and a move to Bosch Dynastart electrics (necessitated by Bosch's purchase of previous supplier Siba) from chassis 68,494 onwards.
The example here is a relatively late model. First registered in 1961, the bodywork retains it original silver paintwork, and it is good condition considering that cars like this have only recently earned care and attention as "classics". Accordingly there are a few dents and scratches, and the paint shows a few rust spots consistent with having been stored for so many years. The blue vinyl interior is also in good original condition while showing signs of use and storage. Interestingly, this example still boasts its original tools as well as original transfers. Its previous owners were two old ladies who apparently parted with the car because they found it too fast.
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